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More than ever, working from home has taken center-stage, a move that began even before the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the basis of loneliness, we often find that simply having conversations over Slack is just not the same as working with coworkers in a shared workspace. But now, a close approximation in the form of office white noise, idle chatter, the rumbling of the bone-chilling air-conditioning system, and the sporadic clatter of the keyboards of others can come back to our daily lives, according to a report from The Verge.
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Remember the office in the time of COVID-19
If the COVID-19 coronavirus has unleashed a weird nostalgia for the office, imisstheoffice.eu, created by the Kids Creative Agency, is probably the closest we can get to the rule of the office, for the time being. Once the site is loaded, users hit the play button in the bottom left corner, and experience the awe of a fully-loaded office: indecipherable snippets of semi-urgent conversation (in French, mostly), an errant fan blowing for its twentieth year, the neurotic jolt that comes from the approaching ring of a land-line phone.
There's even a Dwight, or the smacking puckered lips of one, perhaps plotting his next clandestine imaginary masterpiece (quite possibly a French version of "The Room").
Visual stimulation in the office of nostalgia
However, this is more than meets the ear — the website also displays a visual office layout, awarding a click on floating geometric representations of coworkers with active sound feedback. A click of the water cooler is answered with the sound of water filling up a cup. The printer clicks and jiggles like a printer. The chairs — well, they too sing a decadent song. The ping-pong table is very aspirational.
Basically, this site is designed as a useful reminder that while the office environment might be gone, for now, the part missed by most can come to your home office, and when it does it may remind you of the vaguely-neutral camaraderie that comes with an office environment.
However, until office life returns for real, we've built a new project to help facilitate the matchmaking and global network of engineering initiatives to curb the COVID-19 outbreak — from companies and organizations to individuals with grit. It goes without saying that the world is in dire need of talented engineering minds who read our digital publication. If you want to help us work through this world-historical moment, know someone who wants to help, or know of an inspiring project, please visit the new webpage here.